A death in the family | AspenTimes.com

A death in the family

Paul E. Anna

Living well is all about having a positive attitude. And a year ago I learned that dying is also about attitude.My father passed on August 14th of 2005. It was, of course, a sad and solemn event for my family and me, and yet, as I look back on his last days and hours I hold memories that are anything but sad. In fact, I regard some of his final moments as some of his best. I won’t depress you with the details of his demise; suffice it to say it was time. And, admirably, he accepted that fact with a grace and dignity that, well, as is the case with all of us, was sometimes lacking at other times during his days here on Earth. I like to think he rose to the occasion.And what stands out about those ultimate days were some of the serendipitous moments that my family was able to share with him. Long ago, some of my father’s dearest friends had gifted him with a bottle of vintage Champagne, a 1992 Dom Perignon, to share at an anniversary or other special event. Not being connoisseurs, in fact, hardly even drinkers, my parents had set the bottle aside.So when my sister suggested that we pop the cork and share a farewell toast to my dad hours before his passing, it was, we all agreed, a splendid idea. So that night following dinner, we gathered by his bedside, broke the seal, and opened the bubbly. In his hazy state he really was no longer truly with us, but we still poured the Champagne from the bottle and each raised a glass to him. As we sipped all of us took a moment to pay personal homage to the man who lay before us. While it may seem morbid, perhaps even irreverent to some to toast with joy a man’s final, mortal moments, to us, to me, the right note was struck. We, of course, were mourning his impending death, but we were also celebrating what he was in life. It was with a positive, even a celebratory attitude that we bid him goodbye with our Champagne toast.Losing a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, or even a pet is hard. But the lesson I learned last year is that how one handles death, the death of loved ones and yes, even one’s own death is a product of how one lives one’s life.